On Day 18 I posted Am I an Alcoholic? where I ranted about terminology and imagery.
I'd calmed down a little by Day 44, when I posted Am I an Alcoholic? Part 2. This one, based on Bill Wilson's 'moderation test', shows the light slowly beginning to dawn that perhaps I am.
Then, this morning, on day 82, I was looking at my list of potential blog posts (my aquarium of little fish that you may remember from Full Circle), and I realised that I'd never posted the NCADD's questionnaire.
I came across these 26 questions in Caroline Knapp's book (Drinking. A Love Story)
|1. Do you drink heavily when you are disappointed or have had a quarrel|
2. When you have trouble or feel under pressure, do you always drink more heavily than usual?
|3. Can you handle more alcohol now than when you first started to drink?|
|4. Have you ever been unable to remember part of the previous evening, even though|
your friends say you didn’t pass out?
|5. When drinking with other people, do you try to have a few extra drinks when others|
won’t know about it?
|6. Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable if alcohol is not available?|
|7. Are you more in a hurry to get your first drink of the day than you used to be?|
|8. Do you sometimes feel a little guilty about your drinking?|
|9. Has a family member or close friend express concern or complained about your drinking?|
|10. Have you been having more memory “blackouts” recently?|
|11. Do you often want to continue drinking after your friends say they’ve had enough?|
|12. Do you usually have a reason for the occasions when you drink heavily?|
|13. When you’re sober, do you sometimes regret things you did or said while drinking?|
|14. Have you tried switching brands or drinks, or following different plans to control your|
|15. Have you sometimes failed to keep promises you made to yourself about controlling or|
cutting down on your drinking?
|16. Have you ever tried to control your drinking by changing jobs or moving to a new location?|
|17. Do you try to avoid family or close friends while you are drinking?|
|18. Are you having more financial, work, school, and/or family problems as a result of|
|19. Do more people seem to be treating you unfairly, without reason?|
|20. Do you eat very little or irregularly during the periods when you are drinking?|
|21. Do you sometimes have the “shakes” in the morning and find that it helps to have a|
“little” drink, tranquilizer or medication of some kind?
|22. Have you recently noticed that you can’t drink as much as you used to?|
|23. Do you sometimes stay drunk for several days at a time?|
24. Do you sometimes feel very depressed and wonder if life is worth living?
|25. After periods of drinking do you sometimes see or hear things that aren’t there?|
|26. Do you get terribly frightened after you have been drinking heavily?|
|The interesting thing about this questionnaire is that, according to Knapp, people who answer 'yes' to questions 1-8 are said to be in the early stages of alcoholism, which typically last ten to fifteen years. |
Answering 'yes' to questions 9-21 indicates middle stage alcoholism which usually lasts 2-5 years.
Questions 21-26 indicate the beginning of the final stage.
The reason we become obsessed by the question 'Am I an alcoholic?' is that the underlying question - the one we really want answered - is do I really have to stop drinking? For ever?
The problem is that we don't often really, truly believe that we are an alcoholic until we get to the final stages, when the evidence is irrefutable, and by then it's really, really difficult to stop.
What this questionnaire showed to me is that alcoholism is a progression. It's an escalator which only goes down. I was at the beginning of the 'middle stage', still easily able to deny any problem, but who wants to go any closer to the bottom?
But you know the really odd thing? The reason this post was still languishing on my list (swimming unnoticed around the aquarium) is that I don't really care any more.
I realise now that the question isn't "do I really have to stop?" It's actually "do I really want to carry on?"
Finally, finally, I have got to the stage where I want to be sober, rather than having to be sober.
It strikes me that the reason people get into such a mess before they jump off the escalator is that the image of the alcoholic is so bad they can't associate with it, and the image of the sober person is not attractive enough for them to want to be one.
It's up to us to change that.
Happy Friday fellow revolutionaries! Vivre la vie sober!*
*apologies to any native French speakers.